Orca Whales and Overcoming Fatigue

by Grace Fox – grace@gracefox.com

My husband and I had just completed a busy season of ministry overseas. Our bodies yearned for  rest, and our spirits longed for renewal, but one more commitment beckoned before we could take a break.

A lifelong friend and former ministry coworker had passed away, and we considered attending his funeral a non-negotiable. Doing so was no small ordeal. It meant making a day-long trip that involved two ferry rides with the likelihood of high-volume summer traffic and subsequent lengthy waits between sailings. The prospect held zero appeal for us in our weary state. But there was one other option: do the trip in our sailboat-home. Allowing a week for the round-trip could transform our journey into a vacation.

We left the marina with sunshine overhead and gentle breezes at our back. On the second morning, I was sitting in the cockpit when unusual movement in the water caught my eye. It was a fin about five feet high, heading straight toward our starboard side. Suddenly another fin appeared. And then a third.

Moments later, a pod of approximately thirty orca whales surrounded us. Some disappeared under our boat. Others swam across the bow. One leaped from the air off the stern and landed with a tremendous ker-splash! Their movements mesmerized me. I gazed in awe at these sea creatures diving and dancing, and I felt enveloped by the presence of their Creator and mine.

The whales’ path crossing ours in that massive expanse of water was no coincidence. Only God could have orchestrated such a nature show and given us the once-in-lifetime opportunity to sit in its audience. I embraced it as a gift, a unique and not-so-little expression of His love for us and His presence in our lives. The experience rejuvenated our spirits and filled our emotional, mental, and spiritual sails with fresh wind.

We all experience seasons—some long, some short—when fatigue settles in and feels impossible to shake off. Reasons for exhaustion vary. I have several friends who are providing care for aging parents suffering from dementia. Others are helping to raise their grandchildren. Some are investing significant energy trying to understand and resolve relationship issues within their family. Others are dealing with workplace conflict, financial loss, or health concerns. On a global scale, we’re coming through a season that knocked the wind out of our sails for so many reasons—loss and disappointment being one of them.

Fatigue makes us vulnerable to negative thinking. When I returned from overseas that summer, I caught myself entertaining thoughts like, “I feel overworked and underappreciated” and “Our ministry doesn’t make a difference.” I realized that allowing such thoughts to dwell in my mind would put me into a downward spiral of discouragement. I turned things around by meditating on and praying truths such as Psalm 23:1-2: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength” (NLT).

God invites us to cast our cares on Him, so go ahead—tell Him your need for renewal and expect Him to answer (1 Peter 5:7). He might send restoration through a timely Scripture or email, through a friend who comes alongside to help shoulder your burden, or through an unexpected opportunity to get away for a physical rest. He knows your need and how to best meet it. If He can send a pod of orca whales to renew me, He can do whatever’s necessary to restore you, too, my friend.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the First 5 writing team (P31 Ministries). Her new devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos is available wherever Christian books are sold. Connect with Grace on her websiteblog, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: Do you need renewal today?


Whose View of Freedom Are You Living?

by Debbie Wilson

My husband and I zipped along I-95 South, heading home from the busy DC area. Occasionally, wanna-be race car drivers cut in and out too close for my comfort. I marveled at how a tight space could hold so many speeding vehicles. But that changed when we reached an area marked, “Warning: Unmarked Pavement Ahead.”

Without lines delineating the last two lanes, the space that had safely held four speeding lanes of traffic shrank to three tentative lanes. The benefit of clearly marked lanes couldn’t be clearer. Well-defined boundaries increase everyone’s speed and safety.

I imagined traveling I-95 without marked lanes and shuddered. Then I thought of our culture. In the name of freedom, we’ve erased limits that ensure our liberty and protection. We all suffer as a result.

Have you ever driven into a parking lot without marked spaces? Even a crowded parking lot benefits from defined limits. A populated world needs clear boundaries to prosper. The Bible provides timeless parameters to protect our travel through this world. When we live within those limits, we avert needless mishaps and heartaches.

God’s instructions protect us from harm. The enemy wants to remove this guardrail. As we remember God’s character, we won’t fall for lies.

“The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living” (Psalm 19:7-8 NLT).

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NASB).

The Problem with Adding Rules to God’s Word

Sometimes we add to God’s standards, turning God’s protection into a heavy burden. Jesus blasted the religious leaders of His day for this very offense. The apostle Paul pointed out the fruitlessness of using man-made rules to corral sinful impulses.

“‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’?Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them.These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires” (Colossians 2:21-23 NLT).

If you grew up under religious rules that turned you off to biblical standards, Jesus understands. Look at His invitation.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).

Dismissing God’s commandments brings suffering and heartache. Adding to them steals our joy and puts the focus on self-effort instead of faith. What is the solution?

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NASB).

We must welcome God’s commandments as guardrails of liberty and invite the Holy Spirit to live through us every day in applying them.

Don’t be duped by our culture—religious or secular. Biblical instructions keep our lives safe and protect our liberty.

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

Debbie and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Which boundary in God’s Word do you consider essential to healthy living?

More Like Them

by Tama Fortner

Have you ever had a single verse just explode your perception of God and the magnitude of His love for you? That’s exactly what happened when my son introduced me to one of his favorite Bible verses.

It began with a simple conversation as our family gathered around the table. What is your favorite verse? One by one we shared the words that had touched our hearts and why. When it was my son’s turn, he read this:

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sin no more.” Isaiah 43:25 NIV

Then my son offered his why: “Because it tells me that God wants me with Him.”

Wait! What? How had I missed that all these years?

Of course, I knew that God’s mercy—through Jesus—swept away my sins. (And some days, I keep Him pretty busy with all that sweeping!) And yes, I knew that He chooses to no longer hold my transgressions against me. (Though He has plenty to pick from!) But those four little words in the middle of this verse stopped me in my tracks and overwhelmed me with wonder. They’re the beautiful why behind everything our Lord does. How had I never noticed them before?

For my own sake.”

When these words were written, Israel had been behaving quite badly. Just one verse earlier, the Lord declared, “You have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses” (Isaiah 43:24 NIV). Oh, Israel. Oh . . . me.

And yet, God did not abandon His people. Nor does He abandon us. Instead, He freely offers not just forgiveness for our sins, but life—full, rich, and abundant life in Him (John 10:10)! God’s love for us is so great that He sent His own Son to purchase that abundant life for us on a Roman cross and through an empty grave. We’re not just another obligation to God. We’re not just part of some grudgingly kept, long-ago promise. God wants us to be with Him.

It was just a single verse, just a few words shared by a child, and yet they changed forever the way I see my God and my Savior.

I suppose some truths are so big and so wonderful that they can only be grasped by the hearts of those who are most like Him. Lord, help me to be more like them.

“ . . . for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” —Mark 10:14 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling writer with more than forty titles to her credit. As a ghostwriter, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a happy little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a footwarmer.

Tama’s newest title, Simply Christmas, releases September 28th from Ink & Willow and is available for pre-order now. Catch up with Tama and all her latest book news at www.TamaFortner.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever heard an amazing truth from a child?

Do Not Lose Heart

by Christina Rose

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

While walking through the San Francisco financial district on my way to work, I would often glance upwards to see American flags on top of each building with the red, white and blue waving boldly in the sky. The flag holds great significance for many Americans, including myself. My ancestor, Captain William Blackler, was the owner and commander of the boat that carried General George Washington across the Delaware River on Christmas Eve in 1776. 

This dangerous undertaking to cross a raging river full of churning ice floes in the dead of night, in a winter storm with bitter cold and high winds, made Washington to deliberate whether they should cross at all. While he greatly feared that lives would be lost, turning back meant defeat and death. Washington was a man of great faith who was known to resort to prayer before every battle, so after such deliberation he pressed onward with the decision to cross. The crossing was successful and considered to be a pivotal event in winning the Revolutionary War.

Year ago, my dad would take us kids to Old Burial Hill in Marblehead, Massachusetts where we would sit on the Blackler family plot that overlooked Marblehead harbor. As he told us the story of the crossing, I could picture my uncle, Captain Blackler, fighting ice floes and sleet in the dark winter night, doing his best to keep the boat steady among the tossing waves. I could picture the many other boats with freezing men in rags, starved and far from their families, who were willing to risk their lives for freedom. They marched in place in the icy water of the boats, which were actually rafts, to keep their feet from freezing.

They all had one goal: to reach the other side with General Washington, who would lead them to freedom. That night required great sacrifice, faith, and determination. Their efforts were rewarded. Today we enjoy freedom at the price they paid.

 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV).

When Moses led the Israelites to freedom, God parted the Red Sea to lead them safely to freedom. Just as the crossing of the Delaware River was challenging, so was that crossing. The Israelites had to walk with giant walls of sea on either side of them, filled with sea creatures, wondering if the walls would fall down on them. Yet they did not lose heart. They pressed on in faith and were delivered to the promised land.

Life is not meant to be easy. Occasionally we will be required to cross a stormy sea. But just as we are inspired to take heart by stories of other crossings, we can inspire our brothers and sisters to not lose heart and to have faith to press onward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 KJV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What stormy waters have you crossed recently?

The Subtle Deception of Sin

by Candy Arrington

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3 NIV

In recent years, various celebrities have pled guilty to wrongdoing after vehemently denying charges, and sports figures have admitted cheating to win. When I read these accounts, my first response is indignation. How could these public figures set such a bad example and maintain a seeming lack of remorse?

And then, as is often His way, the Lord whispers, “You are the same.”

“Me? No, I’m not!”

“Remember high school Latin class?”

“Oh, that.”

It began innocently, although cheating is never innocent. There were only four of us in the class and our teacher was old and partially blind. One day we were surprised by a pop quiz, and one of the girls slid her open book into her desk and looked up the answers. Soon, the others were doing the same. I resisted until a day when I hadn’t studied the vocabulary. I was going to fail the quiz…unless. Everyone was doing it. Why shouldn’t I?

Soon, an open book in my desk was commonplace. Then, prior to the exam, which we all were to be exempted from because of our high, ill-gotten grades, the one who began the practice of cheating outed us all. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and mad. Why had she exposed us without warning, without giving us a chance to stop? I’d been caught, and my sin was out there for all to know.

Satan is a sly guy. He convinces us sin is fine, as long as we don’t get caught. He whispers, “Go ahead. You’re safe. No one will find out.”

So, we reason there is nothing wrong with tiny sins—jumping a turnstile, running a red light, fabricating excuses, enhancing the truth. We look at others, measure our sin against theirs, and think what I’m doing isn’t that bad. But don’t be deceived by the father of lies. Sin is sin and all sin is equal. There is no grading scale—no this-sin-is-less-bad-than-another. Every sin has the same effect—separation from God.

Perhaps the greatest deception of sin is the lies we tell ourselves to justify our actions and attitudes, and the only way to avoid deceiving ourselves is to actively work to stay off the slippery slope of lies. You see, sin has a snowball effect. Once you lie, to yourself or someone else, you usually have to tell another lie to cover the first one.

My grandfather was a wise man. One of his life precepts was: If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. In other words, if you lie, you must remember the lie so you can make sure you re-create it later. Most of us aren’t smart enough to juggle many lies for very long. So why try?

Start today. Make a conscious effort to change the things in your life that you consider “tiny” sins. Ask God to help you. One of the first steps in overcoming sin is admitting what you’re doing is sin and that it’s wrong. Then repent, which means to go in the opposite direction, making an intentional about-face.

While we may be indignant about the sin of others, we’re all just as tarnished. Admit it, and then move forward with honesty, believing you can change through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to make an effort to be more like Him.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back. Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: Are there “tiny” sins you tolerate in your heart?

A Taste of Eternal

by Terri Gillespie

Fight the good fight of faith! Take hold of the eternal life—you were called to it, and you made the good confession for it in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12 TLV

Wow. I love that. Take hold of the eternal life.

There is something profound in Paul’s instructions to his spiritual son. Is that even possible—to take hold of the eternal?

When I was in third grade, I sassed my teacher and was spanked with the paddle. I was convinced my life was ruined. That it was the end of the world. I had no idea years later that this very teacher and I would laugh about it.

When I was in high school, the most important thing was to have a date for the prom. Any date. Well, I secured a date for the prom, but I also had a date the day before the prom with another guy who would one day become my husband.

If we think about what concerned us when we were younger, as opposed to today, we understand just a tiny bit of the eternal perspective. What controls our thoughts and emotions today may have no relevance tomorrow. What keeps us fearful today, we may laugh about in the future.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Ruach [Spirit] set their minds on the things of the Ruach. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom [peace]. Romans 8:5-6, TLV

Perhaps taking hold of the eternal life is to keep a holy perspective: the things that are of God—of the Spirit.

So, when concerns control our thoughts and feelings, go back to the eternal. To what that we made good confession. That God loved us so much, He sent His Son to die for us.

That’s a good place to begin, don’t you think? Knowing we have His love makes fighting the good fight easier. Yes?

Father, sometimes we think that today is the eternal, when it is simply today. The eternal lies with You. Keeping our mind on the eternal—our mind on You—is where we want to be. Help us to make good confession of that when we become tangled in the temporal. Thanks for Your patience and love, in Jesus Name. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: How do you keep an eternal perspective?

Fractures, Fault Lines, and a Firm Foundation

by Patti Richter

The azalea bushes reached their peak of bloom the week a realtor planted her “For Sale” sign in our yard. The house shouted “ready,” too, since we’d spent weeks preparing for our move to another home only miles away. Perfect timing—we thought.

After driving boxes of kitchen items to the other house, I returned to find a long truck parked out front with a load of steel poles like you might expect to see at a commercial construction site. I assumed the driver had business at a neighbor’s house until I entered my kitchen and noticed men in my backyard holding poles in an upright position.

“We’re doing soil samples,” the supervisor said matter-of-factly. “We’ll have results for you in a few weeks, but we’ve already found a crack in your foundation.” My husband and I soon realized the slight separation of the kitchen flooring we’d reported to a warranty office wasn’t normal. The lines matched the foundation crack the azalea bushes had concealed.

Ignoring cracks is never a good idea, whether it’s the handle of our favorite coffee cup or the bridge over a river.

The I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River was shut down after a crack was discovered. Since my upcoming travel plan included that route, I viewed drone images of the severely cracked steel beam. Then I looked at file images of the same span taken in the last two annual inspections. The obvious fracture had gone unnoticed all that time until a more attentive inspection team prevented a disaster.

Those physical cracks, while disconcerting, can be repaired. The builder of our neighborhood paid for the days of work to repair our foundation (warranty provided; house sold). The I-40 bridge repair would require months—and a great sum of money.

Repairing cracks in a nation’s foundational principles is more complex. In this country we debate issues according to our vastly divergent world views—secular, biblical, or other. We are chasms apart so that nothing much gets resolved. This growing social divide, like fault lines beneath the earth’s surface, leads to upheaval, especially during times of stress.

The apostle Paul wrote that all of creation has been groaning in “its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21-22 NIV). Hatred, strife, and willful rebellion against the Creator are increasing. Believers may well be groaning as societal opinion shifts and institutions cast aside traditional religious beliefs viewed as narrow and archaic. We sometimes feel as if we’ve entered a foreign land.

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3 NIV).

Followers of Jesus Christ, made righteous by his work and not our own, should acknowledge that God is at work among all nations and people. We could study the life of Daniel for his example of courage and faithfulness though immersed in a spiritually lost culture. As a Jewish captive in ancient Babylon, Daniel refused to bow down to idolatrous dictates. Throughout the reigns of several kings he served, Daniel saw God’s manifested power at work.

In these confusing times, we should pray fervently like Daniel. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10 NIV). While we’re there, we might also, like Daniel, repent. By attending to our own faults, we may see God’s mighty hand at work in our days.

All this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. Daniel 9:13 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What signs of fracture do you see in the world around you?

Your Secret Is Safe

by Rhonda Rhea

The crumb tray. On a toaster. That’s a real thing.

I was having breakfast with my daughter Kaley and caught a whiff of burnt toast. When we checked, though, the toast was fine. The rest of the conversation went like this.

Me: I’ll bet you just need to empty the crumb tray.

Kaley: The….what?

Me: The crumb-catcher thing. You know. That pull-out tray that catches the breadcrumbs.

It took me a couple of minutes to convince her that I wasn’t making it up. And you can guess how I convinced her, right? Yes, I went over to her toaster and pulled out the crumb tray. Full? Um yes. She was incredulous. And how had she and her entire household never caught fire?

I sent a video message to her sister so we could semi-good-naturedly rib her together (sorry, but it’s what Rheas do).

My video to Allie: Can you believe your sister never knew her toaster had a crumb tray?

Allie’s video back, looking at least as incredulous as Kaley: The…what?

My video: Noooo! You were supposed to lovingly mock her with me.

Allie’s next video, holding an overflowing crumb tray: I had to check to make sure you weren’t pranking me.

Me, in a later video message to both daughters: I am a failure as a mother.

It’s interesting to note that what was most compelling to both daughters was that there was this secret place. A secret compartment, right under their respective noses. I don’t think they could’ve seemed more surprised if I’d told them there’s a secret door that leads to a secret passage that leads to a secret treasure.

It’s more interesting to note the compelling nature of an altogether different secret place. The writer of Psalm 91 knew about it. “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1 CSB). Young’s Literal translates it this way: “He who is dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, in the shade of the Mighty lodgeth habitually” (YLT). There is treasure in habitually lodging in this secret place, treasure greater than anything we could ever cook up.

We’re not compelled to go to this secret place so we can hide away from the world or keep private our walk with God. We’re not encouraged to live out our faith in isolation. There is much in God’s Word about doing life and faith together.

But there’s a secret place that’s just one-on-one ours. It’s our spiritual bread and butter—an intentional place in every day where we get away with Him. It’s not really about a particular space. It’s about this particular relationship.  How astounding it is that we are offered a meeting place with our Creator—an invitation to enjoy His presence! Our souls are fed at every meeting in that sweet place of talking, listening and fellowshipping.

Through Moses, God told us that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3 CSB). We have a choice. We can focus our heart-of-heart’s attention on our physical needs. Bread alone. Ironically, that’s a hungry life of never feeling satisfied. Or we can make our overarching goal of every day to know and love Him so well that our truest desire is His will and His glory.

That secret safe place. It’s a real thing. A treasure. Spiritual daily bread—with no crumbs ever left over.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: How often do you visit your secret place?

The Rule of Double Negatives

by Doris Hoover

Don’t use no double negatives. That was a saying we had in elementary school to emphasize a grammar rule. When two negatives are used in a sentence, they indicate the opposite—a positive. So, the actual meaning of the example sentence instructs us to use double negatives.

The same rule occurs in mathematics, but as many times as I tried to make sense of it, my math-impeded brain couldn’t understand the examples. But whether you understand things mathematically or with words, the rule is accurate.

Not surprisingly, God incorporates the rule of double negatives in the spiritual realm. He cancels out a negative with a negative to create a positive. The sin we commit is cancelled out by the sin Jesus bore on the cross, so we can become sinless. Logically, it defies common sense. Just as I have trouble understanding things in mathematical terms, God’s double negative rule makes no sense to a fleshly mind. It is spiritually discerned.

When in our flesh, and we are confronted with the guilt of our sin, we frantically search for spiritual hope. The day the Lord opened my eyes to see the immensity of my sin, boy, did I hold onto the rule of double negatives. I desperately needed my sin cancelled out. I needed the gift of Jesus bearing my sins on the cross to make me sinless before God.

That’s not the only time I needed the rule of double negatives. As a Christian, I continue to stumble into sinful actions, thoughts, attitudes and choices. They cause me to build up guilt.

Guilt is the enemy’s delight. With it, he torments us. But God reminds us in Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The One who cancels negatives with negatives makes a way for us. He gives us the guilt-freeing gift of confession. Even though we may act according to the ways of our flesh, we don’t have to carry the guilt of those actions. The sins we commit daily in our flesh have been cancelled by the gift of salvation; yet God gives us a way to clear them from our minds and release the guilt that torments us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

We can be certain that our blood in the flesh that brings us death was cancelled by the blood Jesus shed, so that through His blood we have eternal life. That’s a given. But God also provides a positive for those negative feelings of guilt. Jesus invites us to share our guilt with Him so He can deal with it and give us a clear conscience. Our negative actions which produce negative feelings of guilt are cancelled by the positive action of remembering we’re loved by the God of mercy, grace, and compassion.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-22 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

Forget Where You Live?

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior. Philippians 3:20 NIV

“I am so tired of moving,” I said to my son as we walked to the gym.

“I know Mom, can we stay in this house forever?”

We took a few more steps, and a smile came to my lips as reality set in. ” Michael, this is not our forever home, our citizenship is in heaven.”

“That’s right mommy, I forgot!”

I find it so easy to get caught up in my earthly address, consumed with daily mundane tasks.

God blessed us with a beautiful temporary home in Rhode Island. Although the winters can be harsh, I thank God this house has so much sunlight provided by skylights. Even on the dreariest day there is a glimmer of light.

But the glorious light we will see in our forever home…”And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5 ESV).

My earthy home has my wonderful pets. Two cats named Peach and Baxter. I love all cats; especially lions. I long for the day I will hug one without worrying that I will be his lunch.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6 ESV

I share this earthly dwelling with my husband and son.  Sometimes there is strife, misunderstanding, or chaos. We’ve experienced deaths of loved ones, cancer, mental illness and more.  We desire to love each other unconditionally, but we fail.  In Heaven, we will all be together with our spiritual family; no tears, anger, or infirmity. We will be with the Prince of Peace.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 ESV

I think of my friends in Togo, Africa, who live in straw huts with dirt floors. How much sweeter heaven will be for them. Now they walk on dirt. In Heaven, they will stroll on streets of gold.

…and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21 ESV

I could go on and on. But I digress. Although my earthly dwelling is comfortable, and I am surrounded by loved ones, nothing on earth can ever compare to our heavenly home.

As my son and I continued our walk to the gym, I thanked God for our temporary home. I praised Him for allowing me to be here to help further the kingdom.

I still long for heaven where our bodies no longer need exercise, food or healing. Worries with be exchanged for worship.  I will be face to face with Jesus; consumed by His love and light.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: What do you look forward to in Heaven?